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Destination: State. Amid pomp, Chanhassen boards bus to its dream.

Chanhassen's Chase: Today's story is the seventh in an occasional Star Tribune series that has followed the Chanhassen Storm as they pursued and landed the program's first trip to the boys hockey state tournament. Tap here to read the entire series.

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Chanhassen, for better or worse, is the latest boys hockey state tournament qualifier to go with the dyed blonde hair for the entire team.

An equally striking sight at Wednesday's final practice at the Victoria Rec Center — a clean-shaven coach Sean Bloomfield. To this point, Bloomfield sported a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow. He defended the change by pointing out, "It's a new season."

Indeed, the Storm's winter of discontent is over. They debut as a state tournament team at 11 a.m. Thursday as the No. 2 seed against Rochester Century/John Marshall.

Wednesday provided a glimpse into the logistics of getting 20 teenagers from the west metro to downtown St. Paul. "Like herding cats," one assistant coach joked.

The equipment/apparel reminders started as practice ended. Bloomfield greeted players leaving the ice with "blue and white socks and breezers covers. Make sure you have both."

Inside the coaches office, the Class 2A, Section 2 trophy sits on Bloomfield's table, below the words "Packing List" with boxes waiting to be checked on the dry-erase board. Extra socks and covers are checked. So are boards (the dry-erase kind), pucks, helmet kit, tape, Sharpie markers and extra skate laces. Bloomfield deviated from the list and grabbed charging cords for the team's electronic touch pads.

Meanwhile, a cellphone sits on the ledge of the dry-erase board, the audio from Warroad's Class 1A quarterfinal against New Ulm filling the small room. None of the coaches is too interested since these are Class 1A teams never on their schedules.

Neither Bloomfield nor his assistants are familiar with state tournament tasks, so they contacted fellow coaches experienced in such matters. Bloomfield talked with former Bloomington Jefferson coach Tom Saterdalen, a former teaching mentor while Bloomfield studied for his master's degree. Assistant coach Zack Friedli connected with St. Thomas Academy coach Mike Randolph, the longtime Duluth East coach who Friedli knew through working at the Minnesota Duluth sports information department.

After practice ended about 11:30 a.m., coaches and players started heading home to eat and pack. Players returned the Victoria Rec Center about 1:30 p.m. and gathered the gear in the locker room. A dry-erase board on the wall still held the team's goals this season. Like the packing list in the coaches office, several boxes were checked: Win the Metro West Conference, Get to Braemar Arena in Edina (for the section semifinals) and Stay at Braemar Arena (for the section championship game) and simply X, location of the hockey state tournament.

The two unchecked boxes are Stay at the X (by winning Thursday's quarterfinal) and State Championship (to be determined Saturday). A cautionary message below said, "The 2 seed has lost in the quarterfinal the last 3 years. Don't be #4."

Next, players loaded navy blue bags into the trailer behind the school bus for transport to St. Paul. Friedli's brown bag, monogrammed with his initials, added a touch of class.

The loaded bus made the five-mile drive to Chanhassen High School, where students and the band eventually came out the building's north side and waved at, photographed or shot video of their hockey-playing peers hanging their blonde mops out the bus windows.

A Chanhassen fire truck arrived to lead the team bus out of the school parking lot, southeast on Lyman Boulevard before turning south on Powers Boulevard and connecting with Hwy. 212. The driver, firefighter Evan Thoreson, was an Eden Prairie graduate who began playing hockey later in life and currently plays men's league. Riding shotgun was Capt. Marissa Smith, not a hockey player — but a 2012 graduate of Chanhassen High School. Following behind the team bus was Carver County Deputy Sheriff and Chanhassen High School resource officer Ethan Larson.

Earlier in the day, in the hush between events at the Victoria Rec Center, Bloomfield pondered his state of mind.

"You can't be nervous about an unknown," he said. "This has been a dream the coaches have shared with the players as long as anyone can remember. I'm excited."

Chanhassen's schedule and results

Chanhassen's individual statistics

Chanhassen's team statistics